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We Must Activate Our Imaginations

Todd Mitchell
Todd Mitchell Author Interview

The Namer of Spirits follows a young girl with the ability to shape what things become as she embarks on a perilous adventure to save her village. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Although the book is a steampunk eco-fantasy that takes place in a fictional world, it was actually inspired by real-world reports on Amazon rainforest destruction done by Lulu Garcia Novarro for NPR. In addition, research into the ways large forests like the Amazon actually create their own weather, pulling in a “river in the sky,” also informed the book. To solve some of the significant environmental and social problems we face, I believe we must activate our imaginations, which is why I wanted to explore real-world issues through a fantastical adventure in this book.

Ash Narro is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Part of what makes Ash unique is how she understands the power of naming. She’s someone who’s able to listen deeply to things that most people overlook or ignore. In doing so, she’s able to hear the true names of things. This shapes not only how she deals with other people, but how she deals with the natural world. And yet, even while she’s more aware than most of the other villagers in the story, she’s also still a child with a relatively innocent view of the world. At times, her innocence allows her to do things that other, more cynical characters, wouldn’t dare try. At other times, her innocence causes her to make some big mistakes.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

One of the main themes the book explores is the power of language to shape how we see the world, and how we think and act. On the one hand, it’s about the importance of developing one’s voice to speak truth to power, as this is what Ash ultimately learns to do. But the book also explores how language can be used to get good people to do bad things, as the Shadow Namer uses his voice to persuade villagers to act in destructive ways—reflecting how propaganda often works in our own world.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book is for writers, artists, and creators who know what’s it’s like to struggle with the challenges of creative living. It’s called Breakthrough: How to Overcome Doubt, Fear, and Resistance to Be Your Ultimate Creative Self, and it just came out with Owl Hollow Press this month! If you’re a writer or creator who’s interested in enhancing your relationship with creativity while enjoying the creative process (and life) more, I hope you’ll check it out.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

In the frontier village of Last Hope, people dismiss twelve-year-old Ash Narro as a flighty child who claims to hear the true names of things. But when enraged forest spirits attack, Ash shows that the names she hears have power.

After taming a destructive forest spirit, Ash teams up with Fen, a wild forest boy, and embarks on an unusual journey to save her village. In this steampunk eco-fantasy, the perils of deforestation and the power of friendship are explored through a fantastical adventure involving giant mistcats, tempestuous forest spirits, a supernatural puppy, and a girl with a special gift for shaping what things become.

The Namer of Spirits

The Namer of Spirits by [Todd Mitchell]

Ash Narro is the eponymous Namer of Spirits in this engaging eco-fantasy by Todd Mitchell.  She is a young girl with a talent for finding the true names and souls of beings and thereby taming them.  She is growing up inside the walls of a village that is hiding from the perils of the outside world, including the unpredictable and fearsome dao fora, who seem to attack at random. But the village has been cursed, and their fear and greed has blinded them to what’s important while their farms struggle under plagues of webworms. When a dao fora youth called Fen finds his way inside the walls and is imprisoned in a cage by fearful villagers, Ash befriends him and sets him free. Branded a traitor by her own people, she goes on the run with Fen to clear her name and to find the Sky Tree in the hope it will provide the answers that her village needs to survive.

Engaging characterization in this adventure will have readers rooting for the protagonists right from the start. The magic is enchanting, and the monsters are frightening and have hidden sorrows. The lineup of otherworldly beings is rich without even a hint of the confusion or clumsiness that many less experienced writers get bogged down in within this genre. Author Todd Mitchell’s naming is both creative and evocative; I particularly loved the mistcats and the illwen.

The Namer of Spirits is among the best of its kind, and it has a superb cover too. Drawing devastating parallels with the real world, Mitchell has created a captivating allegory on the effects of deforestation.  This is a thrilling educational adventure novel for children ages 9 and up, but this beautifully crafted story will also be loved by adults.

Pages: 300 | ASIN: B095Z374J7

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